First Fifty Pages Novel Critique

Comprehensive critique of your book's first 50 pages

When it comes to selling your novel, first impressions are crucial. Most agents and publishers will make a decision on whether or not to keep reading your manuscript within the first chapter or two. If they make it all the way to page 50, you already have a huge advantage. Too often, writers squander the opportunity to land an agent or a publishing deal by making mistakes in the first few chapters.

Here are common mistakes that will cost you:

  • You haven't yet identified what is the most interesting part of the story.
  • You put your favorite writing first, instead of hooking the reader with an intriguing scene of conflict.
  • You don't establish a strong and distinctive voice.
  • You don't establish urgency.
  • You leave the reader wondering why this particular story is being told at this particular time.
  • The novel's stakes are unclear.
  • You don't answer the crucial question, "Whose story is this?"
  • Your manuscript contains grammatical or formatting errors.

  • With the First Fifty Pages critique, you'll discover what works in the opening chapters, what falls flat, and how to improve the style, structure, and plot of the opening scenes to give your book the best chance of success.

    This critique includes line edits to improve the pace of your novel and make dialogue pop.

    Every novel presents its own challenges, and the issues I focus on in your novel will be determined by the needs that arise as I read your manuscript. However, here are some of the things we might address:

    • Increase urgency
    • Tighten structure
    • Improve dialogue
    • Deepen characterization
    • Streamline descriptions
    • Find the heart of your story
    • Crystallize the book’s theme

    This critique is ideal for you if you have completed a manuscript and want to begin querying agents, or if you have received a response from an agent or publisher asking to see a portion of your manuscript.

    *A manuscript page is double-spaced in a standard 12 point font or higher, with 1" margins on each side.

    Your Instructor

    Michelle Richmond
    Michelle Richmond

    Michelle Richmond is the New York Times bestselling author of five novels and two award-winning story collections. Her books have been published in 30 languages. She has taught in the Masters of Fine Arts programs in creative writing at the University of San Francisco and California College of the Arts and has served as Distinguished Visiting Writer at St. Mary's College of Moraga, Bowling Green State University, and Notre Dame de Namur University. She has also designed and taught novel writing courses online for Stanford Continuing Studies. She is the founder and publisher of Fiction Attic Press. She lives and writes in Paris.

    Course Curriculum

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    Frequently Asked Questions

    How long do I have to send you my manuscript?
    Take as long as you need.
    Are refunds available?
    If you change your mind before you send me your manuscript, you'll receive full refund minus the nonrefundable $20 transaction fee Teachable charges me. However, no refunds are available after I have received your manuscript.

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